1. ZarisRedmist
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    ZarisRedmist Member

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    Fleshing out my Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ZarisRedmist, Dec 21, 2012.

    Greetings everyone,

    I have a quick question regarding making my characters seem more realistic. I am currently working on a novel and my characters just seem flat to me, but no one else really seems to notice. Is there a way to make my characters seem as realistic as possible without going completly overboard on the realism? Please feel free to PM me of you want more details.

    Thanks in advance,

    ZarisRedmist
     
  2. .Mark
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    .Mark Member

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    I hate to answer a question with a question, but if no one else seems to notice, what is it about them that makes them seem "flat" to you?
     
  3. ZarisRedmist
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    ZarisRedmist Member

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    They just dont feel right to me it almost seems like it is forced not flowing naturally as I would like
     
  4. .Mark
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    .Mark Member

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    In my opinion, being overly descriptive can make a character seem forced. If you have a very specific image in mind for your character it may seem hard to do, but I think less is more in terms of character description. The reader is never going to imagine the spitting image of what you see in your mind's eye, so as long as you stick to the essentials I think that's all you need
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Put a little bit of you in each of your characters. Take one of your pet peeves and have your MC rant about it. It will make him or her more realistic.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Where are you starting? With plot? That might be your problem. Start with characters. If you have "flat" characters, then forget your story and come up with real ones. Let the plot flow from the characters. They'll build your story for you.

    No character is going to be realistic if he's just custom-designed to fit a niche in a plot. You don't design characters to fit roles; you develop characters and let them define their own roles.
     
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Then perhaps the life you're trying to give them is wrong. I just wrote a scene and it took three tries to get it right to fit the life Talia wants to live. It literally took the three tries and an hour to live it the way she wanted to do (someone wanted to use violence against her and she reasoned with the character to get him to give up his quest-all without having to grab a weapon). So, maybe they're not flat as much as the life they're being forced to live isn't their true life.


    “We never end up with the book we began writing. Characters twist it and turn it until they get the life that is perfect for them. A good writer won't waste their time arguing with the characters they create...It is almost always a waste of time and people tend to stare when you do!” - C.K. Webb



    When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
    Ernest Hemingway
     
  8. Daniel Cassidy
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    Daniel Cassidy Member

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    Are any of your characters based on people you know in real life? Or are any of them similar to people you know?

    Usually I try to think of people similar to my character and try to envision their body language and mannerisms to include in the scenes in my writing.
     
  9. rikithasta
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    rikithasta Member

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    Though I don't disagree with anything said above, I also think a good character is one with multiple goals and motivations, not just the one at hand, and especially not only driving forward the plot of the book with out anything else. Personally, I think giving them some sort of unlikeable character trait, or at least a few character traits of varying degrees of likeablity, helps too.
    What is there motivations, their desires, their fears? Let at least a little bit of this fall true through action. They are more than just what they look like, and how they physically act (though that helps).
     
  10. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Unfortunately, that's not all there is to characterization. Are they the type of character that matches your voice as a writer? Are they in the right life? They can have all the good and bad traits to reach Jupiter but it they don't fit the author's voice, or the life they wish to lead...then they'll always seem flat and cardboard.
     
  11. Griplan
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    Griplan Member

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    One thing I did was I wrote short stories for each character as practice. This gives them their own setting and allows you to figure out how they think.
     
  12. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes! Yes! Yes! Absolutely do this. Actually, you don't even have to make them full fledged short stories. You can just write scenes, especially where they interact with other people.
     
  13. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I always pretend I am one of my characters writing their own stories in first person style. It's kind of like role playing or acting. After figuring out your character's personalty, imagine you are him or her, describing what you see and how you feel. How will you interact with other characters and talk to them?

    Third person is different. You will use your own words to tell us how your characters think and feel in all of their point of views.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I model characters as composites of real people I have observed. I may not even know some of the real-life counterparts, but I draw upon reactions I have seen in situations, and decide which reaction works for my character (or moves her in the direction I require).

    Certainly, I am one of my behavioral models, particularly when my own reactions to situations have surprised me. But I also am careful not to make my characters clones/surrogates of myself. If there is any good to be gleaned from the knee-jerk label of a "Mary Jane" character, it is that no one wants to read a novel populated with the author wearing various skins. Self-insertion must be closely watched to keep it from being intrusive.
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the problem is that people don't want to read about a character who is perfect and can do no wrong, which can be how people think of themselves, and therefore when the character is actually the author, there are no bad traits, because the author refuses to acknowledge them in himself. But since most of the readers won't know the author personally, putting yourself in the characters, thereby giving them some of your personality traits, makes them more real.
     
  16. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    There's a very distinct difference between interjecting yourself into the characters and whether or not they fit your voice. A brutal character when written by an author who's voice doesn't match, is just like trying to put the square peg in the round hole....
     
  17. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I think Cogito (correct me if I'm wrong) was saying that if you interject people you know or yourself into the character then the way you portray them will match the way you view them, and the way you view something does come out in voice. So if a sweet, humble, man that's always feeding birds doesn't fit your voice at all because your voice, when your writing and view that man, he becomes a crazy old coot wasting his time away. If you can feel your character, get inside her brain, then they will match your voice.

    At least, that's how I read his statement.
     
  18. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    i don't do this exactly, but then it depends on the characters i think -and then i might be more in common with my chars than i think! I' say the most complex characters are cowards who want to do better, but end up not most of the time. Its a very wierd feeling especially considering the fact that I'm a female author writing a male character. But then, there are Many, MANY types of characters to create or choose from -who's to say that yours is just a new type?
     

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